Monday, January 28, 2008

January 27 - Scott's Oriole in Manhattan

Although I only had a few hours free this weekend, some friends were kind enough to take me into New York City to look at the vagrant Scott's Oriole that has been discovered in Union Square Park.

This bird from the Southwestern U.S. is just the first record of this species in New York state !
Previously I have seen this bird in Arizona two times. The first was on Mount Lemmon in 2006 and the second time was in Madera Canyon in 2007. So, it was quite a treat to see this bird again and so close to home !

Here are some wonderful pictures taken by a Brooklyn-birder.

While it appears that this typically fruit-loving bird has adapted to it's New York life quite well, it was mainly feeding on the sap-laden holes in a Holly Tree that were made by the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker that is also over-wintering in this park. Quite a symbiotic relationship !
credit: Stephanie Seymour

Here's a final pic of this bird.

Monday, January 21, 2008

January 19 - North Shore and Sandy Hook

I started this morning at Manasquan Inlet. Driving through Point Pleasant I saw an adult Cooper's Hawk on a telephone pole. Driving around the inlet I was able to see several of the large Boat-Tailed Grackles. Then at the inlet I had close views of Purple Sandpipers, Bonaparte's Gulls and Great Cormorant, however no alcids or specialty gulls were seen. I did spot a distant adult Northern Gannet, and both Common and Red-Throated Loons along wth Red-Breasted Mergansers.
credit: Steve Bird

On the nearby ponds, I had Canvasback ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, Wigeon, Lesser Scaup and Ringed-Neck Ducks. A highlight was the Lesser Black-Backed Gull, one which was seen on Wreck Pond and another on Lake Como. At Deal Lake I had a Pied-Billed Grebe. I had a single Greater Scaup from the Conover Pavilion area. Finally on Lake Takanassee I saw three male Redheads with a lone female.

Next at Sandy Hook, I was treated to wonderful views of the long-staying Townsend's Solitaire. This bird was first found in the last week of November, and I was able to life this bird in early December. Today the bird was very cooperative and gave several flights that showed it's brilliant wings.

I then searched in vain for the female Barrow's Goldeneye and Eiders that had been reported, only finding Common Goldeneyes, Horned Grebes and Long-Tailed Ducks. However with the help of others I was able to see an Iceland Gull from North Beach.

And I located a White-Winged Scoter from C-lot aka the Chokecherry Parking area.

Interesting January records were had for Field Sparrow and Tree Swallows.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 12 - Hammonasset Park again

I rode with a few friends back up to Hammo today in order to see the Red Crossbills, and we were handsomely rewarded. We saw just over two-dozen of the beauties from close range.
Very nice views were had by all, and it was a life bird for two in the group.

And we even got to see them take to the ground for some water !

credit: Stephanie Seymour

Down by Meigs Point Nature Center we had a flock of Horned Larks and there were 3 Lapland Longspurs mixed in. And behind the blind there, we had wonderful views of an American Bittern as it warmed itself and preened right out in the open.
credit: Arthur Morris

Later, after dipping on the Chat that was reprted in Old Lyme, a return trip to Meigs produced a flyby Northern Goshawk !
credit: Mike Pope

Finally, on the jetty we saw Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-Bellied Plover, and Common Goldeneye and Common Loons in the water.

Monday, January 07, 2008

January 6 - Sullivan County Winter Finches

After hearing what a tremendous day some friends had up in the Sullivan County town of Liberty on Saturday, I made the trek up here myself with four other friends today.

Upon arriving at Clements Road we quickly spotted a pair of Bohemian Waxwings amongst the smaller, and lighter colored Cedar Waxwings. We enjoyed nice scope views of these birds, and found yet another one nearby. Fortunately for us, these birds stuck around for about 10 minutes or more before flying off not to be seen again today.
credit: Blacks Bay Lodge staff

This fantastic shot shows some of the major differences from the Cedar Waxwing. The dark gray body, red undertail, and red face with very little white surrounding the black mask credit: Doug Lloyd

At the junction of Smith Road & Cooley Mountain Road, the Rayano's feeders provided everyone with beautiful looks at a very large group of Common Redpolls.

Among the flock of nearly 100 of the Common Redpolls that were seen here, we were able to locate two of the "frosty-colored" Hoary Redpoll species
Finally, in the afternoon we were treated to yet another winter-finch species in the Evening Grosbeak, including three gorgeously-colored males:

credit: Lester Rees

Additionally we saw several Pine Grosbeaks, most being on Airport Road where we had a flock of 26, including the incredibly beautiful males:

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

January 5 - Hatfield Swamp

Today I took a brief walk near the town of Caldwell, in a remnant of the Great Passaic Ice Sheet.
This area was preserved due to it's continual flooding and also the overhead powerlines that have been installed here.

There were quite a few surprises for this time of year. Notably was the flock of 10 Common Redpolls that flew in just briefly enough for me to identify them. Also seen were Purple Finches, and some Catbirds. Woodpeckers seen were Downy, Hairy & Red-Bellied, plus Northern Flicker.
The sparrows included White-Throated, Swamp, Song, Tree, and Field, along with Juncos.
A dozen or so Rusty Blackbirds was also very nice to see.

In the raptor department, a Sharp-Shinned Hawk was seen, along with a mated pair of Red-Tails.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

January 1 - Wallkill NWR

After my plans for Montauk Point, L.I. got washed out by this morning's rain, I headed up north to Wallkill just after lunch. The goal was to see some seasonal birds that will only be here for another 90 days or so.

I was able to see several Rough-Legged Hawks, Short-Eared Owl, Northern Harriers, Cooper's Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawks, Kestrel, and Pileated Woodpecker.

December 31 - Golden Eagle at Garret Mountain

While unsuccessfully trying for the Common Redpolls that have been reported here, I was lucky enough to run into a fellow birder named John S., who spotted a Golden Eagle.
photo credit: Mark Priest

This is an exceptionally rare bird for this location, and its the first time I have seen one here.
That brings my Garret Mountain Life List up to 171 species.

Here is the final numbers as of 12/31/07:

N.J. 2007 : 284 ( a new personal high)
N.J. Lifelist: 335

N.Y. 2007: 196
N.Y. Lifelist: 239

ABA Northeast 2007: 303
ABA Northeast Lifelist: 363

ABA Area 2007: 393
ABA Area Lifelist: 555

World 2007: 401
World Lifelist: 631